There is a multibillion-dollar supply chain software market that has seen double-digit growth during the pandemic and will continue to grow rapidly, which very few supply chain officials have heard of. How can this be?
What is this market?
The solution is called a Collaborative Supply Chain Network (SCCN). Gartner calls this solution a multi-company supply chain business network. ARC’s definition is that a supply chain collaboration network is a “collaborative solution for supply chain processes built on a public cloud – a many-to-many architecture – that supports a community from business partners and third party data feeds. SCCN solutions provide supply chain visibility and analytics across an extended supply chain.
Gartner defines a multi-company supply chain business network as a “community of business partners who must work and communicate / collaborate on business processes that span multiple companies, with end-to-end / shared focus.”
Whether SCCN or MESCBN, both sets of solutions are based on a network architecture (public cloud).
Although the definitions are similar, in practice, Gartner considers a MESCBN to be one of the forms that a supply chain fulfillment solution can take. ARC puts more emphasis on SCCN as a network; From our perspective, the solution may involve collaborative messaging or it may also be a particular type of application.
How can this market be so big and be largely unknown?
CRA research shows that the SCCN market exceeds $ 3 billion and is expected to grow at double-digit rates over the next five years. How can such a large, rapidly growing market be largely unknown? Because this is not a new market at all, it involves a rebranding of the markets that already exist.
The SCCN Marketplace is comprised of EDI value-added networks, solutions that were originally created to support industry-specific purchasing in a market environment, transportation management, or other forms of Collaborative supply chain applications based on public cloud architecture, real-time transportation visibility solutions, and exciting new solutions that can identify supply chain risks in near real time.
Why the rebranding?
Why did the CRA see the need to combine these different solutions into a new market called “Collaborative Supply Chain Networks? “
What is common to these different sets of solutions is that they are all network solutions. Networks have distinctive advantages:
Integration and communication management – Integration with trading partner systems can be time consuming and costly. However, if a business partner with products / services for sale is on a network and a buyer of those products / services joins the network, the IT effort involved to facilitate collaboration between these two companies is greatly diminished.
Partner management – before doing business with a new business partner, there are all kinds of things that a buyer of a product or service wants to know. Sellers on the network can enter this information and then allow other potential buyers of their products to see this information. This saves the seller time and can speed up the speed at which two companies can do business.
Third party data – An example of the advantage of this category concerns forecast data from third parties. Industry and government can be used to increase the accuracy of forecasts. If that data lives on a network, accessing the data can be much easier and less expensive. Likewise, information from third parties on the financial health of suppliers or information on environmental, social and governance practices of suppliers can be very useful.
Network analysis – A good example of this occurs with public cloud transport management systems (TMS). In a TMS, a shipper submits to a carrier for a track. The carrier replies that he can take the load, or not, and the price of the move. A network built with the right permissions makes it possible to anonymize and aggregate information on the tracks. Shippers can know that the average price for a single track trip is $ X and the price they get puts them in the bottom 25%.
Collaborative recording system – Some SCCN solutions can serve as a source of truth about a transaction that has occurred on the network. This eliminates “he said, she said” arguments.
An SCCN promotes supply chain agility
Supply chain management has become a topic of boardroom conversation during the pandemic. While the pandemic has taught companies a lot of things, one of the key elements was undoubtedly the need for agility.
An SCCN can facilitate the onboarding of new partners more quickly, gain visibility into disruptive events or new risks that could (or will disrupt) a company’s supply chain before they occur, and more access faster and easier to information that can improve supply chain planning. In short, there is no doubt that a collaborative supply chain network contributes to agility. It is not surprising that this market continued to grow at a sustained rate during the pandemic.